Reeling after a poor 1-3 West Coast road trip, the Orlando Magic returned home for a pitstop to host the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night. Despite a late third quarter blunder that saw the Nuggets cut into their lead, the Magic coasted for much of the night, notching a 116-110 win.
Early on, the Magic relied heavily on Aaron Gordon, who got off to a white hot start, knocking down all five of his shots en route to 12 first quarter points. The Magic struggled to keep the Nuggets out of the painted area, giving up 16 of their 25 points there in the quarter. Orlando took care of the ball in the quarter, not turning it over once, while forcing the Nuggets into four mistakes. Thanks to hot shooting -- the Magic shot 58.3 percent in the quarter and knocked down four three balls -- the Magic held a seven point lead, 32-25 after one.
After a strong first quarter, the Magic continued their sudden surge in the second quarter. With their bench in, the Magic were able to stay even, not falling behind like they have in many of their recent contests. Once re-inserted, the starters continued their torrid play, stifling the Nuggets on the defensive end, with Victor Oladipo coming up with a set of highlight reel blocks. Behind the trio of Oladipo, Gordon and Evan Fournier, the Magic found themselves in control against the visitors, up 15, 61-46 after one half.
Out of halftime, the Magic weathered their usual early third quarter struggles, pushing their lead up to as many as a then game-high 17. With their offense firing on all cylinders, the Magic seemed poised to push the game out to 18 with a few minutes remaining in the quarter. However, thanks to tired legs from the starters, the Magic began faltering, turning the ball over more and more late in the quarter, allowing the Nuggets to go on a run. Denver finished the quarter on a 14-2 run to cut the Magic's once 18 point lead down to six, 85-79, heading into the fourth.
Following the Nuggets cutting the lead down to three early in the quarter, the Magic responded, pushing it back up to double digits. Despite their best efforts, the Nuggets weren't able to get the Magic lead back down, allowing the Magic to take home a needed win. The Magic will need to carry their energy over to Wednesday night against the Hornets in Charlotte.
Fournier led all scorers, finishing the night with 30. Oladipo had another strong performance, finishing with 23 points and six assists. Jason Smith notched his first double-double of the season, finishing with 25 points and 13 rebounds, while Aaron Gordon added an efficient 16. Brandon Jennings added 10 points and 11 assists in his first start for the Magic as well.
Denver was led by Gary Harris, who finished the night with 18. Will Barton added 15 off the bench, with Nikola Jokic adding 14 of his own. D.J. Augustin added 13, with Emmanuel Mudiay finishing with 14 and Joffery Lauvergne finishing with 12. Darrell Arthur rounded out Nuggets in double figures with 10.